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Mai Hoang, founder of web development and design company Happy Go Techy (Annie Laurie Malarkey photo)

Many of you will recognize Mai Hoang, our latest Geek of the Week, as the energetic personality behind the Happy Go Techy Expo, a geeky craft fair and mobile application showcase held at the University of Washington earlier this year. But that’s the just the beginning of her interests and activities. Continue reading for her answers to our questionnaire, including the best response we’ve seen yet to the question of the greatest game in history.

Name: Hello, my name is Mai Hoang.

Job, hobby and/or other geeky pursuit: Job: I’m the founder of a small web development and design company called, Happy Go Techy. I’ve worked for DocuSign,, The Founder Institute, and CBS Interactive (CNET Networks) in the past.

Hobby: I started the Happy Go Techy Expo.  The Happy Go Techy Expo in short is a craft fair for tech geeks. It’s a fun filled day that showcases two things: 1) the best and most unique (often times handmade) tech gadget accessories and 2) fun consumer mobile applications built by startups.

Geeky Pursuits: On the side I run an eCommerce site that sells Vietnamese Coffee Kits called Happy Go Coffee. On the side side, I run a small etsy operation selling handmade iPad/Laptop/iPhone/Camera cases.

Halloween as a Twitter bird

Coolest thing about what you do: I think it’s great and very cool that I get to express myself creatively through design and technically through web development.

What does it mean to you to be a geek? Oh, to be a geek… being a geek is a thing of beauty.  A geek is a person who embraces the things they love with passion and obsession (the good kind).  You can’t try to be a geek, you can’t learn how to be a geek, it’s just something you are and happen to be.

Geekiest thing(s) you’ve ever done, built, or worn (photos encouraged):  This one is hard since I live and breath geekery… I make geeky crafts, love to bake cupcakes topped and decorated with geeky themes, have and collect the most extensive collection of Web 2.0 t-shirts, enjoy spray painting my laptop pink.

The geekiest thing I’ve worn/made was a Twitter Bird costume.  Two Halloweens ago I was feeling really crafty!  I decided I wanted to be Twitter bird and pretty much harassed my boyfriend into being an egg.  I took so long making the costumes, by the time I was done Halloween was practically over.

Angry Bird cupcakes

Your best tip or trick for managing everyday work and life:  Balance and self respect is the trick!  That’s not to say that work and life should always be 50/50.  It’s okay to teeter and totter overboard to one side or the other every now an then.  When you start to feel demotivated or lethargic about one or the other you should instantly recognize that it’s time to adjust something.  Go ahead and be a workaholic just make sure sure you eat healthy and workout regularly to keep your mind strong.  You know your own limits, respect yourself and the people in your life.  Passion about work is not an excuse to abuse yourself and neglect the people you care about.  Everything is connected.

Personally, I enjoy doing hot yoga during lunch time to break up the work day.  I try to do this at least three times a week.  Hot yoga three times a week and I feel invincible (all it took was 3 hours out of my entire week).

Mac, Windows or Linux?  Mac please.

Kirk, Picard, Janeway or Sisko?  Can’t decide between Kirk or Picard. Let the Google decide:

Transporter, Time Machine or Cloak of Invisibility?  Time machine!  I’ve dreamed of traveling into the future and back into time since I was a little girl.  I’d talk to Friedrich Nietzsche first.

If someone gave me $1 million to launch a startup, I would … Build a time machine.  Just kidding, one million’s not enough! Real Answer:  Revolutionize the shipping and handling industry, it’s wasteful, inefficient, and expensive.

* I once waited in line for … Nsync concert tickets all night. So lame, I know. Please, go ahead and judge me.

Here’s a geekier standing in line memory. As a kid I looked forward to black friday so much!  I’d save up all my money go stand in line all night, at Best Buy or Circuit City to buy tech gadgets on the cheap.  One year I bought a VHS tape rewinder for $1!  What a deal.

* Your geek role models (And why?): I have many but two come to mind almost instantly.

Will you marry me, Richard Saul Wurman? (jk…sort of…ok, seriously jk!)  Wow, what a great geek/man!  He had a passion for making information understandable, and from that passion he’s made the world a better place in such enlightening ways.  It’s impossible to leave unsatisfied or uninspired.  Riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world!

Vivienne Tam!  I’ve been really inspired by her fashion design work in the tech world from the HP netback to the Square Reader.  Goes to show how much further product design in technology can still go and how these two different industries actually go hand in hand. (photos attached)

Greatest Game In History: Tetherball!

Best Gadget Ever: I have some very fond memories of the Nintendo Gameboy.

First computer: I can’t remember what the family computer was but the first computer I bought on my own was a white iBook off of Craigslist for $300.  The next day I took it apart and spray painted it pink.

Current phone: HTC Inspire

Favorite app:  FatBooth is so fun but I would die without the DropBox app, so DropBox!

Favorite hangout:  Remedy Teas on Capitol Hill.  Really great place to hang out with friends or get some good work done.

Favorite cause: Free internet for all!  Seriously, this needs to happen.

Most important technology of 2011: This year has been all about the cloud.

Most important technology of 2015:  I don’t know and I kind of like that.  I could venture a guess but technologies that are profound happen and manifest so quickly.  Think back to four years ago, no such thing as an iPhone/Kindle/iPad.  Who knows, maybe even an alien invasion bring sweeping changes to the technology landscape!

Words of advice for your fellow geeks: Somehow words of advice always sound so corny and cliche.  It’s also cliche to say something is cliche… so I’ll stop with that and here it goes!  Think of the world that you want to live in.  Create, inspire, and evolve based off of that and you’ll be a much happier person/geek.


Just “Make It so.” -Picard

Site(s):  //  //  //  personal blog:

Twitter:  @happygotechy / @missmai

Geek of the Week is a regular feature profiling the characters of the Pacific Northwest technology community. See the Geek of the Week archive for more.

Does someone you know deserve this distinguished honor? Send nominations to

[Geek of the Week photography by Annie Laurie Malarkey,]


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